Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lesson Notes: Outside Rein

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks. I've been extremely busy and stressed in the rest of my life, and some of that has bled through to my riding. My last two lessons weren't great; one was outright awful. Tris is having what T.  has characterized as a "rebellious phase." We've fallen off the edge of the plateau and are slowly climbing up again.

Last night's lesson was better, though. Tris had his teeth done, and I think that helped him feel a bit softer and looser in the mouth, because he was more willing to work with me than he has been. We even got to some fairly nice work by the end of it, and are slowly touching on good stuff in the canter.

My next step is to really solidify my outside rein. Tris gets so stuck either overbent or stiff as a board that I have trouble feeling that sweet spot, that just-enough-bend moment when I can drive him through to the outside rein. I tend to overcompensate on the inside and focus on that instead of really balancing from outside aids. T.'s new mantra for me is "your inside aids are doing enough." I'm also working hard to half-halt through my hips instead of using my elbows, which is bearing fruit in the canter.

After a really, really rough patch with the right lead canter we are slowly getting that back. Tris learned a bit of an evasion in flinging his neck and shoulders around, picking up the wrong lead, and then dropping into trot; we're getting the right lead more consistently now, and I have more ways to fix that problem.

I spoke with T. about a conditioning schedule as well. There has been some back and forth on the COTH forums about conditioning, and I described the two camps to T. and asked for his opinion. My gut, as I explained to him, is that Tristan is not currently fit enough to come off a BN cross-country course in the kind of condition I'd want, so I've been doing a schedule that looks something like:

15 minutes brisk walk
8 minutes trot
2 minutes rest
8 minutes trot
2 minutes rest
8 minutes trot
5 minutes rest
2 minutes canter
1 minute rest
2 minutes canter
1-2 minutes loose trot into walk and done.

T. agreed with the schedule. Tristan doesn't have the base of fitness that many event horses do - he wasn't started until he was 11, after all - and he doesn't exactly exercise himself in the field. (T. described at length Tristan's attitude when others in his field are cavorting around: "You guys, that looks like a lot of work and effort and there is hay, right here, for me to eat. You're all stupid." I commented that Tris is constantly saving his energy for when a mountain lion actually does attack, and in the meantime, he sees no point to it.)

Conditioning will also tighten up his ligaments to get ready for the concussion of a XC course, and I've been instructed to do my sets in two-point, which will work on my lower leg. I can already see what a difference riding in short stirrups more regularly has made, so tonight it's a conditioning night in two point for us. I was glad to have my gut feeling confirmed.

We are officially entered at Elementary at the Valinor Farm CT, and will be schooling XC afterwards. We'll also enter Hitching Post at the end of May at Grasshopper, and are arranging stabling for that.

1 comment:

  1. “You guys, that looks like a lot of work and effort and there is hay, right here, for me to eat. You’re all stupid.”

    Ha, that does sound like Tris! And his buddies are grand players -- he must think they're _such_ fools! Glad he's coming out the other side of his snottiness. :)


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